I am always happy to help a friend. And when I hear that a friend has copious amounts of alcohol and is unsure what to do with it...well, that's like a cocktail emergency. And I am like a cocktail superhero. With great power, as they say, comes great responsibility.
Okay, this is a bit facetious. But for reals - Kendra, sojurning in the exotic land they call Germany, found herself with a surfeit of Bacardi Gold Rum. Did I have any suggestions? Well, it has been a while since my latest rum drink, but your bartender always relishes a challenge. Kendra told me she and the hubby had been making Rum n' Cokes with the confounding rum, but they tasted like medicine. Well, propitiously, I had just acquired a copy of Imbibe magazine, the one with the article about the 25 most influential cocktails of the last century. Right there, on the first page, was the Cuba Libre. I thought a Cuba Libre was the same thing as a Rum n' Coke. Not so fast!, said Imbibe magazine. The different between a Rum n' Coke is and a Cuba Libre is that a Cuba Libre has lime juice in it - and that is a big difference indeed (went the magazine). Also propitiously, I happened to have a bottle of Bacardi Gold, bequeathed to me by a certain generous friend upon her move to St. Louis. So I pulled out the Bacardi and made myself a real Cuba Libre.
(with thanks to Imbibe magazine and Jonathan Phillips.)
4-5 oz Coca-Cola
2 oz Bacardi Gold Rum
juice and peels of half a lime
Squeeze the lime and then drop it into the glass. (Not sure if this is official Cuba Libre protocol, but it looked pretty in the Moscow Mule so we're going with it.) Fill the glass with ice, and add the rum and coke. Garnish with a couple of lime wedges.
Verdict: The lime definitely adds a little something. I may never be satisfied with a plain old rum n' coke ever again. (Alicia tried it (right before we went for a run, which is a great time for a cocktail), and she liked it too. I'm not sure I can trust myself anymore, since I liked the Hemingway reviver.)
But I wasn't going to stop with just a dressed-up Rum n' Coke. To prove myself a master of my craft, I needed to come up with something a little more exotic. My second attempt involved pineapple juice, rum, and ginger ale. It was terrible. It is not recorded here. It tasted, as Kendra said of the original rum n' cokes, like medicine.
My third cocktail was much better.
The thought process for cocktail #3 was as follows:
1. Isn't that a bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer?
2. Wasn't there some drink with blueberries and rum on the menu at the Anvil not too long ago?
3. Lori makes those drinks, the Scarlet Jos, with mixed berries and SoCo and sweet n' sour and club soda. So we know that frozen berries + booze + sweet n' sour + fizzy = Good.
4. Brown sugar + gold rum has been a winner in the past. Let's try that.
5. Ginger is one of those things (like champagne, or lemon) that inexplicably mixes well with everything. So let's get some of that up in there (because I am unemployed and I have all the time in the world and club soda is for wussies and we're gonna go CRAZY).
With all this going on, it wasn't too long until:
The Blueberry Gin Rum-y
Thawed (or fresh) blueberries*
2 oz Bacardi Gold rum (or any old rum)
.75 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp brown sugar
Ginger ale (or Ginger beer, if you're feeling adventurous.)
*If you have fresh blueberries, they will work just as well as the frozen ones. The advantage of frozen blueberries is this: 1. You can get them any time of year, and 2. They are cheap. And they keep practically forever. (Maybe you are lucky enough to have some delicious Texas blueberries that you had the prescence of mind to freeze. If so, bully for you. I will have some, too, as soon as my blueberry bushes outgrow their blueberry-adolescence.) But what do you do with the frozen blueberries? Frozen blueberries are cold and hard and un-muddlable. Here is what you do: fill a glass with hot water from the tap. Place the frozen blueberries in the glass. Give the blueberries a couple minutes and then strain out the water. Ta-da! Cocktail-ready.
Cover the bottom of an old fashioned glass with the thawed blueberries. (If you're using a taller glass with a smaller bottom, make a double layer.) Add the sugar and lemon juice and muddle (or smoosh with the back of a spoon). You want to muddle enough to melt the sugar and break the skins of the blueberries. After muddling, fill the glass with crushed ice, add the rum and ginger ale, and stir.
Verdict: I did done good. It's sweet, with a little bit of spice from the ginger and a little bit of kick from the rum. Using ginger beer instead of ginger ale will make this a different drink entirely - not as sweet, with more pronounced spiciness from the ginger. It's a more complex and somewhat less accessible cocktail, so of course it's my favorite, since I like things that are complicated. But who are we kidding? They're both delicious. Do try this at home.